Going Live – Booking and Promoting Your First Gig

Joining a band and playing live will enhance your playing as well as your confidence levels, but how do you make the move from garage jam sessions to your first fully fledged gig?  There are plenty of factors to take into account, but they needn’t be complicated…

This brief guide should clue you in on a few of the simple steps which need to be considered when making your first tentative steps into the live arena.  You’ve finally scraped together enough equipment for a decent live setup, cobbled together a few original songs and are now ready to rock the masses – so let’s hit the road!  Here are a few basic questions you should be asking yourselves when arranging your debut live show…

Whereabouts Should We Play?

Start off by playing in your hometown so that you at least know you will have friends and family turning up to support you.  Playing at a venue miles away where no one knows who you are is a waste of time and money at this stage.  Scout around for local venues which have a capacity of under 100 people, and make sure the establishment has its own sound engineer, lights and PA system.

What Are the Best Days To Book our First Gig?

If feasible, try and book your gig for a Friday or Saturday night, possibly a Thursday.  Playing on nights of the week when people have work the next day will have a detrimental effect on attendance.  Try to avoid public holidays and festive breaks when many people will have disappeared on vacation.

How Do We Find Other Bands to Play With?

You can try to find other local bands to support who are already established and looking for opening acts.  Find some successful local bands and contact them through their MySpace/Facebook/YouTube/Website to ask for a support slot.  Be sure to let them know that you will be bringing a lot of people to the show and that you will help out with promotion if required.

If you have a little money to spend you could get in touch with a local promoter to handle everything for you.  Keep an eye out for good candidates on the web and on local posters and flyers.  A promoter will book the bands, hire the venue and publicize the show for you.  However, when just starting out you may find that the promoter will be unwilling to work with you until you have at least established yourselves locally.

Alternatively, if you want more control over your gig and want to get your hands dirty then you can try and organize your own show.  Obviously this last method will involve a lot of extra work, i.e. hiring the venue, booking all the bands and then promoting the gig.  If booking the gig yourself make sure to actually visit the venue, meet the owner and let them know how many people you expect.

Who Will Provide Transport and Equipment?

At many gigs there will just not be enough time to switch equipment between bands, and for this reason many bands will just share the backline.  Agree between yourselves who will be providing what.

Do We Need To Sign a Contract?

If at any time another band, promoter or the venue owner asks you to sign a contract for any gig do not sign it.  For example if the owner tells you that you can only play the gig if you sell fifty tickets in advance then turn the gig down.  Don’t become bullied into entering any legal agreements or ticket selling deals.

How Do We Promote the Show?

Don’t just rely on the other bands, promoter or venue to market your newly booked gig – get busy yourselves!  Print out some eye-catching flyers and post them around town in your local music stores and venues.  Make sure to update your band’s Facebook/MySpace etc and tell all your friends.  If plenty of people turn up then the venue is likely to ask you back.

It’s all Booked…What Now?

Make sure to keep in touch with all of the relevant people in the days or weeks before the show.  You will need to be kept in the loop in case there is an equipment change or one of the other bands pulls out for example.

Simple enough right? 😉 Leave your own tips in the comments section below.

Next check out our guide on ‘How to get the Audience Screaming For More!

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